Ever since I was 11 or 12 years old, Tony Blair has been a constant, leering presence in my life. Even now – a full decade after he resigned as prime minister of the UK and leader of the Labour Party – he’s virtually inescapable; a relentless voice in the global media demanding my attention through the sheer, overwhelming force of its celebrity. He’s quoted at length in GQ and The New Yorker on Brexit and Trump. He clogs-up the British press with his views on Jeremy Corbyn and Emmanuel Macron. He’s soft-balled on CNN and gushed over on Morning Joe. He wants and expects me to take him seriously, on terror, and Palestine, and free trade. But I keep hearing rumours that he destroyed Rupert Murdoch’s marriage.
I would be more inclined to listen to Blair if I wasn’t British, or if he didn’t freely admit that he has absolutely no idea what’s going on. “I’m not sure I fully understand politics right now,” he confessed in 2016, “which is an odd thing to say, having spent my life in it.” What confuses him, apparently, is the current popularity of politicians, like Jeremy Corbyn, who don’t adhere to the rules he established for the centre-left in the 1990s. These rules can be easily summarised: capitulate to the economic status quo – and then turn passionately on the constituencies that elected you.